May I take you on a bit of journey?
Four Stories To Higher Profit – from your home sale and, anything else you sell in life.
By Michelle Lieberman
Let me share with you several stories that recently impacted me.
The first comes from a book, written by Carmine Gallo.
Meet Aimee Mullins, she as 12 pairs of legs. Like most people she was born with two, but unlike most people Mullins had to have both legs amputated below the knee due to a medical condition. Mullins has lived with no lower legs since her first birthday.
Mullins grew up in a middle class family in the middle-class town of Allentown, Pennsylvania, yet her achievements are far from ordinary. Mullins’ doctors suggested that an early amputation would give her the best chance to have a reasonable amount of mobility. As a child Mullins had no input into that decision, but as she grew up she refused to see herself as or to accept the label most people gave her—“disabled.” Instead, she decided that prosthetic limbs would give her superpowers that others could only dream of.
Mullins redefines what it means to be disabled.
Mullins tapped her superpower—her prosthetic limbs—to run track for an NCAA Division One program at Georgetown University. She broke three world records in track and field at the 1996 Paralympics, became a fashion model and an actress, and landed a spot on People magazine’s annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful people.
When Mullins told her story to the world, “The opportunity of Adversity,” just as I have told you her story here, it was quickly viewed nearly 1.5 million times.
Let me tell you another story that I read about. In his book, Gallo also introduced me to Cameron Russell.
In a presentation, Russell tells the audience, “Looks aren’t everything.” Cliché? Yes, if it had been delivered by anyone else. Russell, however, is a successful fashion model. Within thirty seconds of taking the stage Russell changed her outfit. She covered her revealing, tight-fitting black dress with a wraparound skirt, replaced her eight-inch heels with plain shoes, and pulled a turtleneck sweater over her heard.
“So why did I do that?” She asked the audience. “Image is powerful, but also image is superficial. I just totally transformed what you thought of me in six seconds.”
When Russell told her story, the full version, not just the intro as I have shared with you here, it was quickly viewed more than 6.5 million times.
Let me tell you yet another story. This one about Magic Johnson but more specifically, his business partner, Ken Lombard. Ken and Magic were scheduled to meet with Peter Guber who, at the time, was the CEO of Sony pictures. Upon meeting Guber in his office, the first thing Lombard said was, “Close your eyes. We’re going to tell you a story about a foreign country.” Guber thought it a little “unorthodox,” but he shut his eyes and went along with it. Lombard continued, “This is a land with a strong customer base, great location, and qualified investors. You know how to build theaters in Europe, Asia, and South America. You know how to invest in foreign countries that have different languages, different cultures, different problems. What you do, Peter, is you find a partner in the country who speaks the language, knows the culture, and handles the local problems. Right?” Guber nodded in agreement as his eyes remained shut. “Well, what if I told you a promised land exists that already speaks English, craves movies, has plenty of available real estate, and no competition? … This promised land is about six miles from here.”
Lombard and Johnson were pitching Guber on building movie theaters in underserved urban communities, but knew Guber wouldn’t be interested if he knew from the start that this was their idea.
Lombard knew, first, he’d have to create a desire for Guber to own such a location. For this, he needed to tell the above story. He’d need to take Guber on a journey, so he could see, and imagine, before he judged and ruled it out.
It worked! In the first four weeks of opening, the first Magic Johnson Theater was one of the top five highest-grossing theaters in the Sony chain.
Finally, meet Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. They founded the site SignificantObjects.com, a website dedicated to the power of story. Significant Objects was a social and anthropological experiment devised by Walker and Glenn. The two researchers started with a hypothesis: a writer can invent a story about an object, investing in the object with subjective significance that would raise its objective value. In other words, they could buy crap, tell a compelling story about that crap, and because of the romanticism of the story, create a desire for the object to sell it for far more than they purchased it for. They curated objects from thrift stores and garage sales. The objects would cost no more than a buck or two. The second phase of the experiment saw a writer create a short, fictional story about the object. In the third step, the object was auctioned off on eBay.
The researchers purchased $128.74 worth of objects. The thrift-store “junk” sold for a total of $3,612.51. The men had discovered that a powerful story had raised the average products’ prices by 2,700 percent.
Through the experiment the researchers concluded, “Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively. Or simply put, “When someone likes a story about an object—or your home, if it’s on the market and you’re selling it—that emotional connection is expressed by the buyer in his willingness to pay a higher sales price. This of course, earns the seller of the object a greater profit for whatever that object is being sold.
So why tell you these stories? Because each one of these stories reveals a secret that we use when working with real estate clients to realize higher bottom-line profits. If you want to turn adversity into opportunity, for example, you craft a story. Every home has its flaws; there is no perfect home. But through the power of story, as Aimee Mullins demonstrated, how those flaws are seen and viewed to the outside world can be changed. The thesaurus definition for the word disabled is: broken-down, confined, decrepit, handicapped, helpless, hurt, incapable, laid-up, lame, maimed, out-of-action, paralyzed, powerless, weakened, worn-out, wounded, wrecked. But as Aimee Mullins exemplifies, even with no lower legs, none of these “definitions” are true. She believes her prosthetic limbs are her superpowers and give her options. Longer prosthetics to make her taller for balls and black tie events, spring-loaded prosthetic legs for running at incredible speeds, shorter prosthetics for every day… she has options we do not. And while I can’t ever imagine wanting to trade my lower legs for no lower legs, through the power of hearing Aimee’s story, I wouldn’t now fear it. With every adversity there is opportunity. The Power of Story helps real estate clients to see that same truth, when looking at or selling a “flawed” home. We can turn it into a positive.
If you want to transform the look of your home, as Cameron Russell revealed, image is only surface deep. In the same way Russell completely transformed her image within 30 seconds of taking the stage, we, through a process called “Scientific staging”, can transform the image of a clients’ home. In her full presentation Russell talks about, in preparation for a photo shoot, of having a team of hair and make-up stylists, photographers, fashion coordinators, people to help her pose, etc., all working to tell a story through her newly created image. And, in real estate, maximum profit works in exactly the same manner. Through the creation of a new imagine, we’re able to tell a home’s story. And, from Rob and Joshua’s research at SignificantObjects, on the power of story, we know this is a path to higher profit.
The reality is, we all love stories.
They have the power to entertain us, suck us into a message, and help us envision the impossible, even change our minds about deeply held beliefs—as Lombard proved to Guber about building theaters in urban areas. This is why Jay and I spend so much time crafting, listening to and studying stories. Sure, we enjoy them, but also, for our clients, our job is to tell them effectively. Their profit, and the speed of their home sale, depend on it.
I guess my point is—never forget—the story you tell about your home, in more ways than you can imagine, has impact on your bottom-line profit. So don’t shortcut this step and be certain that no agent you may hire to help you, shortcuts this step either.
ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.